England head coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday’s final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2).
Nathan Hughes (Wasps) starts his first game for England at number 8 replacing Billy Vunipola (Saracens) who was injured during last weekend’s victory over Argentina. Marland Yarde (Harlequins) returns to the right-wing in a starting side which contains 607 caps while the bench remains unchanged.
“We’ve had a great week’s preparation and we can’t wait to get to Twickenham on Saturday with the crowd right behind us,” said Jones.
“Nathan Hughes comes in for Billy Vunipola, who has been exceptional for us all year and we wish him well in his recovery from injury. Nathan is a strong runner and will provide go-forward.
“Marland Yarde starts on the right-wing. As I’ve said before, I like one winger with pace which is Jonny May and then we want work-rate – Marland will work hard for us.
“The great thing about our team is that no-one is irreplaceable. We’ve had seven influential players missing throughout the autumn but we’ve been able to we’d fill that gap and that’s the sort of team we are developing.
“Most big Test matches come down to the last 20 minutes and if you look back historically at big Test matches between England and Australia at Twickenham the last 20 minutes has always been a time where either team can win the game and the team that is the most composed, makes good decisions and physically pushes themselves is the team that is going to win the game.
“Australia have improved significantly since we last played them. The enduring feature of Australian rugby is their cleverness. They look like they are doing one thing and they do the other. They have got some quite clever two-phase variation plays and we are going to need to be on our guard. They played very deep and a long way from the gain line against us in June, now they are really flattening up. They’ve really got their attack together and it’s clear Stephen Larkham is doing a good job with them.
“We want to make the game into a physical contest but we also need to be flexible and adaptable like we were against Argentina and if do that we’ll put ourselves in a good position to win the game.
“We’ve played three Test matches on the trot which is important because it replicates a World Cup pool. You get through the pool you then need to win every game to win the World Cup. We’ve won three from three so it’s a great dress rehearsal for the World Cup. We need to win this game to progress to the next stage. You can’t just win three games to go through, Japan showed that, so we’ve got to get in that practice of winning four games on the trot against quality opposition.”
England match-day 23 for the Old Mutual Wealth Series game against Australia
15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 54 caps)
14. Marland Yarde (Harlequins 10 caps)
13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 28 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 46 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 21 caps)
10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 29 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 64 caps)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 38 caps)
2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 78 caps)
3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 68 caps)
4. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 52 caps)
5. George Kruis (Saracens, 19 caps)
6. Chris Robshaw (Harlequins, 54 caps)
7. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 44 caps)
8. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 2 caps)
16. Jamie George (Saracens, 11 caps)
17. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 45 caps)
18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 3 caps)
19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 2 caps)
20. Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints, 4 caps)
21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 65 caps)
22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 2 caps)
23. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
Dave Attwood and Semesa Rokodugni (both Bath Rugby) are included in the squad as travelling reserves